Tuesday , September 26 2017
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Mike Kimel

Mike Kimel

An economist for a large corporation and author of Presimetrics blog and the book Presimetrics: How Democratic and Republican Administrations Measure Up on the Issues We Care About published August, 2010.

Articles by Mike Kimel

Worldwide Deaths, by Cause & Age, 1990 v. 2016

3 days ago

Here’s a fascinating graph from an article in the Lancet:

Click to embiggen. (The figure should show deaths all the way to >95 years)
The graph is a bit complicated at first, but it will convey some interesting information if you stare at it. What jumps out at me is how many more people were dying under age 25 in 1990 than in 2016. The number of deaths in 2016 v. 1990 increased dramatically for those above 25, particularly among the older cohorts. Simply put, a lot of people are living a lot longer.

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Habit Formation

4 days ago

There’s a fascinating but barely-accessible-to-a-non-neurologist article about habit formation. Here is a pretty good summary, albeit with an un-helpful title:
A single kind of neuron deep within the brain serves as a “master controller” of habits, new research in mice indicates.
Some habits are helpful, such as automatically washing your hands before a meal or driving the same route to work every day. They accomplish an important task while freeing up valuable brain space. But other habits—like eating a cookie every day after work—seem to stick around even when the outcomes aren’t so good.
Researchers found that habit formation boosts the activity of the influential nerve cell, and that shutting it down with a drug is enough to break habits in

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Justice Denied

6 days ago

From the Daily Mirror:
None of the 400 citizens returning here after fighting for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq have been charged with war crimes.
Yet the Council of Europe’s legal affairs committee recently ruled membership of the terror group, also known as Daesh, is enough for prosecution at the Hague’s International Criminal Court.
Labour Shadow Minister Liam Byrne, representing Britain, backed the decision.
He said: “We know British citizens were soldiers and commanders in Daesh’s army of evil. Yet not a single soldier captured on their return has been charged with war crimes or genocide.”
MI5 estimates that 850 Brits have slipped into Iraq and Syria to fight for IS – half of whom have returned.
They were outside the jurisdiction of the ICC while

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Supply and Demand in California

7 days ago

I came across the following graph:

(Click to embiggen)
Both the supply curve for labor in the state of California and the demand curve for housing in California are made up of the states residents.
In general, if you increase the supply of something, all else being equal you bring down its price. On the other hand, if you increase the demand for something, all else being equal you increase its price. The graph above suggests that in California, two things have happened. One is that the supply of labor has increased more rapidly than its demand. Conversely, the demand for housing has increased more rapidly than its supply.

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Homicides: Victimizers and Victims

10 days ago

Last year in Chicago:
Among the Sun-Times’ findings, based on a review of police and Cook County medical examiner’s reports, court files and interviews:
• The vast majority of those killed in Chicago in the first half of this year — 90 percent —died from a gunshot wound.
• Seventy-two percent were African-American men, their average age 29.
• Four out of five had faced criminal charges in Cook County at some point, mostly for drug offenses — the leading cause of arrest in Chicago.
• Two out of five had drug convictions.
• More than a quarter had been convicted of a violent offense or illegal gun possession.
• Domestic conflicts, many involving mental illness, were involved in at least 24 of the deaths.
• At least four were killed by stray bullets. Others

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Let the Punishment Fit the Crime, Identity Theft Edition

13 days ago

With the the recent Equifax data theft fiasco, I thought of a post I wrote 10 years ago:
Based on a conversation I had with reader Debbie, I was thinking about identity theft for the last day or so. I also had a discussion with the Ex-GF (for new readers, that’s my wife) about this; she was the victim of identity theft at one point. Its a big deal in this society, and I think I have a potential solution…
If someone steals someone else’s identity, their intention is to benefit from the reputation and credit rating and so forth that derive from the way their victim has conducted him/herself. Perhaps then they should also be required to, well, suffer the consequences for the way their victim conducted him/herself.
For example… the Ex-GF had a big pile of

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Let the Punishment Fit the Crime, Even if the Crime is Imaginary

15 days ago

This can’t be healthy:
Matthew Halls was removed as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival following an incident in which he imitated a southern American accent while talking to his longstanding friend, the African-American classical singer Reginald Mobley.
It is understood a white woman who overheard the joke reported it to officials at the University of Oregon, which runs the festival, claiming it amounted to a racial slur.
Here are the mechanics of the process:
But Mobley maintains that while racism should be challenged and ethnic groups made aware of each other’s sensitivities, his friend has been the victim of misunderstanding and overreaction.
Halls and Mobley had been chatting at a reception held last month during this year’s Oregon Bach

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ACT Scores and Achievement Gaps

18 days ago

The Washington Post has a story on ACT scores:
New results from the nation’s most widely used college admission test highlight in detailed fashion the persistent achievement gaps between students who face disadvantages and those who don’t.
Scores from the ACT show that just 9 percent of students in the class of 2017 who came from low-income families, whose parents did not go to college, and who identify as black, Hispanic, American Indian or Pacific Islander are strongly ready for college.
But the readiness rate for students with none of those demographic characteristics was six times as high, 54 percent, according to data released Thursday.
“That kind of shocked us,” ACT chief executive Marten Roorda said. “We knew it was bad, but we didn’t know it was

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From the Onion to the Times of London… And Back Again to be added soon

20 days ago

Jô Soares, a well known Comedian turned political commentator (think Al Franken but not in the Senate) in Brazil, used to do a recurring skit about a former general who woke up from a coma. The rib was, the general had gone into the coma while the country was still ruled by a military junta. Anyway, the general would see stories in the news about former political prisoners turned into leading politicians, or former military personnel on trial, etc., and he’d demand to have his feeding tubes removed. To get the jokes, of course, you not only have to understand Portuguese but also have some understanding of Brazilian politics from about 1970 to the mid-1980s.
I believe this clip showed the first appearance of the character. (Sorry – I can’t find it in

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Accountability for Judges in the Criminal Justice System

22 days ago

Here’s an article entitled I Set a Defendant Free And Got Blamed When He Raped Someone. This is what the article is about:
A judge explains how he decides whether to release a defendant before trial without bail — and how it can go bad.
I found reading any further into the article was a complete waste of time, but the little bit I quoted above does raise an important point. Pretty much every job includes some measure of accountability based on outcomes. Presumably our betters on the bench should also operate under the same principles. If someone actively sought out a position in which they decide whether defendants get released before trial, it isn’t too much to expect them to be pretty good at figuring out who should be released before trial and who

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The White Racist Cops of Chicago

24 days ago

An article by Nirej Sekhon in the American Criminal Law Review entitled Blue on Black: An Empirical Assessment of Police Shootings looks at 270 officer-involved-shooting incidents that occurred in Chicago between 2006 and 2014. His data comes from Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority (“IPRA”) summary reports of intentional officer-involved shootings. The article has interesting graphs.
Some of the graphs fit the popular narrative:

Some don’t:

The author points out that:
The IPRA Reports and other data tend to suggest that a police department’s demographic profile will tend to roughly predict on-duty officer shooters’ demographic profile.
In fact, the figures seem to suggest both black and white officers are slightly less likely to be shooters

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Self-selection and Multigenerational Mobility of American Immigrants

26 days ago

Last year I wrote a post noting that the income of group of immigrants in the US is correlated with the income of the country from where those immigrants hailed. I noted that this correlation is especially strong for immigrants in the US for the longest.
I just stumbled on this paper from earlier this year by Joakim Ruist. Here’s the abstract:
This paper aims to explain the high intergenerational persistence of inequality between groups of different ancestries in the US. Initial inequality between immigrant groups is interpreted as largely due to differently strong self-selection on unobservable skill endowments. These endowments are in turn assumed to be more persistent than observable outcomes across generations. If skill endowments are responsible for a

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Crime and Punishment

27 days ago

I stumbled on a blog post by Jerry Ratcliffe, who is a Professor of Criminal Justice and Director of the Center for Security and Crime Science at Temple University, Philadelphia, and a former police officer with London’s Metropolitan Police (UK).
From one of this posts:
Graph no. 2 is another image from my Intelligence-Led Policing book. The crime funnel represents what happens to a random selection of 1,000 crimes that affect the public (top bar). It shows the loss of cases through the criminal justice system. These are British national data derived from public records, but the comparisons to the U.S. are very similar. If you take a random selection of 1,000 crimes actually suffered by the public (violence, robbery, vehicle theft, residential burglary,

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Baltimore Trade-off

29 days ago

I’ve been following the situation in Baltimore since the death of Freddie Gray because my wife hails from that city. Here is what is happening now according to the Baltimore Sun:
Baltimore’s top law enforcement leaders say they are working closely together to fight crime — but the community should not expect a turnaround soon.
State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, in an exclusive joint interview with The Baltimore Sun, say they are overseeing crime-fighting in a different climate than six years ago, when the city experienced fewer than 200 homicides for the first time in decades. Both officials claimed those past gains were achieved using heavy-handed tactics that have been disavowed.
“There was a price to pay for” the

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How Long Employees Stay at Tech Companies

August 27, 2017

This shows how long employees stay at major tech companies:

Not having worked for a tech company, I found these tenures to be pretty short.  I Googled retention at Google (I’m trying to stay on their good side) and found an article suggesting the  median tenure at Google is 1.1 years. I imagine this sort of thing is hard to measure from the outside, but it does seem people don’t stay at the big tech firms long.

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Homicides Over Time, Plus a Question About Drugs

August 25, 2017

I was looking for information on drug related murders and inadvertently stumbled on this old Bureau of Justice of Statistics report. There’s a lot of interesting information in it. One fascinating table is this:

For context, here is the population breakdown over a period that includes the timespan in the table.

I’m not sure this gives enough information to say what would happen if drugs were legalized, but I am interested in your thoughts.

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Three (No, two, um, make that three again) Commentaries on 2017

August 23, 2017

Commentary 1.
I was bouncing around twitter and landed on the following tweet. It may be the best commentary on where we are that I have read.

(click to embiggen or to see the whole picture)

Obligatory comment: I know nothing about the individual who left the tweet. To the best of my knowledge I have never seen a tweet by that person before. I haven’t checked his (her? zir?) other tweets to know whether I should endorse or denounce him (her? zir?).  But I thought the tweet was clever.

Commentary 2.
From The Hill:
The Republican National Committee (RNC) expanded its massive fundraising lead over the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in July as the Democrats posted their worst July haul in a decade.
The DNC raised just $3.8 million in July, compared to

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The United Nations Peddling Racism and Sexism

August 21, 2017

The United Nations peddles garden variety sexism and racism disguised as data. Case in point is the the 2014 United Nations Global Homicide Book. Figure 1.3 and Map 1.2 (which promote racism), or Figure 5.6 (which perpetuates sexist notions) are particularly problematic.
I for one refudiate the report.

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Evolution of the Trump Administration: An Op Ed

August 20, 2017

Donald Trump seems to be missing some sort of a regulator that prevents him from simply saying what temporarily happens to be on his mind. That made it inevitable that he would treat his audience to a regular stream of faux pas. However, I think both the degree and severity of the mess may be diminished going forward.
The reason has to do with how the Trump administration came into being. Simply put, unlike most candidates, he actually beat both major political parties in the US, not just the Democrats. He took the Republican nomination by beating the presumptive heir – Jeb Bush. Then he beat the back-ups who were viewed as acceptable to most establishment Republicans: Rubio and Cruz.
Now, when a new President takes office, he can usually stock his

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Symbols of Oppression Being Ignored

August 17, 2017

The Confederacy stood for the forcible subjugation of other people. If there is a benefit to honoring the concept of or symbols for the Confederacy I don’t see it. Taking these symbols out of the public sphere is a net positive, even if some people are able to simultaneously a) disassociate those symbols from the oppression they represent and b) venerate those symbols.
To be consistent, note that the radical Islamic ideology also calls for the forcible subjugation of other people. Furthermore, it seems clear that in the last few decades a heck of a lot more people have been killed or enslaved by those following a radical Islamist ideology than a Confederate (or similar fellow traveler) ideology.
So… are there symbols that matter to the radical

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More on the Gender Gap in STEM

August 14, 2017

I found a piece from two years ago on the notoriously far right, alt-right Public Broadcasting Service website entitled Column: Why the STEM gender gap is overblown by Denise Cummins, a research psychologist.
She begins by noting that men don’t outnumber women in all areas of STEM, and she provides this graph:

(Click to embiggen.)
She then goes on:
At the Ph.D. level, women have clearly achieved equity in the biosciences and social sciences, are nearly there (40 percent) in mathematics and the physical sciences, and are “over-represented” in psychology (78 percent). Again, the only fields in which men greatly outnumber women are computer science and engineering….
When we look at the actual workforce, we see the same pattern. Women are as likely as men to

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Reducing the Gender Disparity in Incarceration: A Thought Experiment

August 12, 2017

According to the latest figures, 93.3% of federal prisoners are men. The male to female incarceration rate is also wildly lopsided in state and county facilities, and to my knowledge, pretty much everywhere else in the world. I also am unable to think of a single example where there is reason to believe that women outnumber men in jails and prisons. Furthermore, I don’t see any particular reason why incarcerated men will not continue to outnumber incarcerated women as long as there are prisons or people.
Before I go on with this thought experiment, allow me to provide full disclosure. I was born and raised and continue to be a male. My parents and my wife are willing to corroborate the details should anyone wish to delve more deeply. It is also relevant

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Random Thoughts on the Google Memo

August 9, 2017

I haven’t been following the Google Memo saga all that closely, but I do have some random thoughts about the whole brouhaha:
1. If the distribution of skillsets, interests and temperament is the same between men and women, why do the latest figures (June 24, 2017) from the Bureau of Prisons indicate that 93.3% of federal prisoners are men?
2. Would a rational person, upon learning that 93.3% of federal prisoners are men, jump to the conclusion that our legal system won’t punish women for crimes?
3. If the distribution of skillsets, interests, and temperament is the same between men and women, why does Google give advertisers an option to target customers by gender? Shouldn’t they stop?
I note… this post was suggested by my wife. She asked my opinion about

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Meanwhile, In Australia

August 3, 2017

Meanwhile, in Australia:
A LOCAL council has banned the construction of a synagogue in Bondi because it could be a terrorist target, in a shock move that religious leaders say has caved in to Islamic extremism and created a dangerous precedent.
The decision, which has rocked the longstanding Jewish community in the iconic suburb, was upheld in court this week as the nation reeled from the alleged airline terror threat and debate raged over increased security measures at airports and other public places.
The Land and Environment Court backed the decision by Waverley Council to prohibit the construction of the synagogue in Wellington St, Bondi — just a few hundred metres from Australia’s most famous beach — because it was too much of a security risk for

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The Homicide Rate, Race and Poverty

July 31, 2017

In my last post, I noted a positive correlation between the homicide rate in a state and killings by the police in the same state. In states where the risk of homicide is higher, police killings also tend to be higher. But there is a mitigating race component, and one which (not surprisingly for those who care about data) goes against conventional wisdom:
for the same state homicide rate, people are less likely to be shot by cops in states where Black people make up 10% or more of the population than in states where people make less than 10% of the population.
Looking at homicides, and accounting for race, it seems there are different dynamics at play among different population groups:

(Click to embiggen.)
I can’t find murder rates (whether victimization

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The Homicide Rate and Poverty

July 31, 2017

In my last post, I noted a positive correlation between the homicide rate in a state and killings by the police in the same state. In states where the risk of homicide is higher, police killings also tend to be higher. But there is a mitigating race component, and one which (not surprisingly for those who care about data) goes against conventional wisdom:
for the same state homicide rate, people are less likely to be shot by cops in states where Black people make up 10% or more of the population than in states where people make less than 10% of the population.
Looking at homicides, and accounting for race, it seems there are different dynamics at play among different population groups:

(Click to embiggen.)
I can’t find murder rates (whether victimization or

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More on Police Shootings and Race

July 24, 2017

In my last post, I linked to a post by Peter Moskos noting that:
People, all people, are 1.6 times more likely, per capita, to be shot and killed by police in states that are less than 10 percent black compared to states more than 10 percent African American. Blacks are still more likely than whites, per capita to be shot overall. But this ratio (2.6:1) doesn’t change significantly based on how black a state is.
For both whites and blacks, the likelihood of being shot by police is greater in states with fewer blacks. And the difference is rather large. There are seven states less than two percent black. In 2015 and 2016, zero blacks were shot and killed in Maine, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. But if you think cops don’t shoot

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Police Shootings by State v. Percent of the Population that is Black

July 21, 2017

After my recent post on police shootings I was curious and did some googling on the topic. By coincidence, right about that time Peter Moskos (i.e., Cop in the Hood) wrote this:
I looked at the Washington Post data of those shot and killed by police in 2015 and 2016 and broke it down by states with more and fewer African-Americans. States that are more than 10 percent African American include 21 states plus D.C. (198 million people, 18 percent black, 36 million blacks). There are 29 states less than 10 percent African American (126 million people, 6 percent black, 7 million blacks).

Killed by Police v. Black Share of the Population

People, all people, are 1.6 times more likely, per capita, to be shot and killed by police in states that are less than 10

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Shootings by Police Officers: Self-Control and More

July 17, 2017

I stumbled on a recent paper in the Police Quarterly entitled “Quick on the Draw: Assessing the Relationship Between Low Self-Control and Officer-Involved Police Shootings.”
The authors are Christopher M. Donner, Jon Maskaly, Alex R. Piquero, and Wesley G. Jennings from Loyola, U of Texas at Dallas, U of Texas at Dallas and U of South Florida, respectively.
Quoting from the paper:
While the extant literature on police use of deadly force is voluminous, it is fairly limited with regard to the influence of officer characteristics. Moreover, this is the first known study to explore an individual-level criminological theory(i.e., self-control) in the context of police officer-involved shootings. In building on previous studies linking low self-control to negative police

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What do we owe Raf & Laura Brannigan?

July 10, 2017

Self Control is one of the defining music hits of the 1980s. It was first released in 1984 by Italian singer-songwriter Raf (his first single). It was also released almost contemporaneously by Laura Brannigan.
The song includes these lyrics:
You take my self you take my self control
I I live among the creatures of the night
I haven’t got the will to try and fight
The first line of the quote I provided is wrong. Not in the sense that those words aren’t lyrics for the song, but in the sense that a person’s self-control does not get taken by someone else. I’ve stumbled on a number of papers published recently that noted something along these lines:
While the link between low self-control and several behavioral and social problems is widely supported, debate

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